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Darren Sproles: “If the right team calls, then I go back”

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Will the Eagles be dialing?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Sproles turns 36 later this month. Injuries have limited the veteran running back to only nine games played over the past two seasons.

So, is Sproles ready to retire?

It sure doesn’t sound like it.

Speaking with Dr. David Chao on the Pro Football Doc Podcast, Sproles said he’s still open to playing football in 2019. Some notable exchanges from the interview:

CHAO: But you’re not done?

SPROLES: If the right team call. If the right team call, then I go back.

[…]

CHAO: You had said last year would be your final year.

SPROLES: Mhm.

CHAO: And that’s why you were trying so hard and did so well [recovering] from your ACL. And then really the hamstring, unrelated, got you. You just don’t want to go out that way?

SPROLES: That’s my whole thing. That’s my whole thing. I want a full year. I want a full year. Actually want to get up to like, top four or five in all-purpose yards … like, ever. Right now I’m No. 6. If I would’ve played a whole season last year, I would’ve been No. 4 right now.

[…]

CHAO: Now, does part of your coming back … look, you have a Super Bowl ring —

SPROLES: Yeah, but. See, like, me … I want to play in the Super Bowl. You know what I’m saying? I was on the team, yeah, but I want to play in the Super Bowl.

These quotes from Sproles line up with what NFL insider Adam Schefter had to say about him last week.

SCHEFTER: I think he wants to play. I think that it’s the kind of thing — he’s out in California. And I think he’d like to go back to one of the teams he’s played for in the past … whether that’s the Eagles, or the Saints, or the Chargers. He wants to be in a competitive, winning situation. He’s not in any rush to go do this. He’s done this long enough to know exactly what he needs to do to be ready. And I think at the appropriate time — if and when a team comes calling — that he will start listening to what they have to say. But right now it’s not like ‘I’ve got to be at OTAs in Philadelphia.’ Or ‘I’ve got to be at OTAs in New Orleans. And I have to go leave my family.’ That’s not what he wants to do. So, I think what he wants to do is sit back, wait, and see if somebody wants him, and if somebody wants him at the appropriate time, I think that he’ll be enticed to wind up playing.

Will the Eagles be the team that eventually calls Sproles?

It’s not easy to envision right now.

Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders project to be Philadelphia’s top two backs in 2019. Corey Clement is still making his way back from injury, yes, but the Eagles were really high on him heading into 2018. Then the Eagles have the likes of Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott, Josh Adams, and Donnel Pumphrey competing for a fourth running back spot.

Of those four players, Doug Pederson specifically singled out Scott as a player who projects to fill the Sproles role.

We have a player, Boston Scott, who’s been on our roster since the end of last season or halfway through [last season]. He’s a guy that can kind of fill a Darren Sproles [role]. He’s in that same body type and same quickness. We’re working him in a couple of different situations as a runner, as a punt returner, and just kind of getting a feel for him because he wasn’t a guy we initially brought onto our team early. Of course, there’s other guys, but he’s kind of been the one that, if you say you’re going to try to replace Darren, which you really can’t, he would be the guy that has kind of taken that role over right now.

The 24-year-old Scott entered the league as a sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has zero career rushing attempts or receptions to his name. In other words, Scott still has a lot to prove.

It’s possible Scott seizes the opportunity in front of him and makes the Eagles’ 53-man roster. It’s also possible neither Scott nor his competitors end up panning out.

If the Eagles end up being underwhelmed by their young guys — and/or the team suffers some injuries at the running back position — signing Sproles might come into play. He sure wouldn’t mind playing with Carson Wentz once again.

CHAO: So you’ve played with [Philip] Rivers, [Drew] Brees, [Carson] Wentz. I’m not going to put you in the spot — as you’re smiling and shaking head — “who’s better? who’s this, that, or the other?” I’m not doing that to you. OK? But, a compare and contrast … is fair? I know you’re friends with all of them, I know you respect them all. But compare and contrast them.

SPROLES: All of them, like the way they prepare each week, is the same. They probably all get in around 5 o’clock in the morning and they’re always the last one to leave. That’s the way they all are. And all of them, they love to win. The thing about Wentz, he really has a chance to be up there with [Brees and Rivers]. […] Wentz, the way he’s able to move and run and stuff like that, he’s got the chance to be a great quarterback.

For now, though, Sproles remains on the market, free to sign with any team that comes calling.

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